U.S. Critical of Assembly in Somalia

The American government and the United Nations signaled their displeasure Friday with the Somali Parliament’s decision to extend itself for three more years, despite accomplishing almost nothing.
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The United States and the United Nations have invested millions of dollars in the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, or T.F.G., with the American government providing weapons and paying soldiers’ salaries and the United Nations providing financial and diplomatic support.

The Somali government’s mandate ends in August, and American and other Western diplomats have been discussing what is next. But on Thursday, the Somali Parliament, apparently with little consultation with its outside backers, voted nearly unanimously to extend itself for three years. Parliament has passed few, if any, laws in the past six years and is often the site of clan-based bickering and even brawls.

The United States on Friday called the decision “self-serving political maneuvering” that amounted to “a disservice to the people of Somalia and a setback to the establishment of legitimate and effective government.”

The move could further undermine Parliament’s credibility and risks strengthening the Shabab, the radical Islamist group that controls vast areas of southern Somalia, the American government said in a statement issued from its embassy in Kenya.

The United Nations sounded a similar, critical note.

“This is a disappointing decision taken in haste without the required level of discussion and consultation,” said Augustine P. Mahiga, the United Nations special representative for Somalia.

On Thursday, James B. Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, who was in Kenya, said, “We are frankly disappointed with the performance of the T.F.G.”


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